Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite

"Off the Wall" recounts the various ways that visitors have met unfortunate ends in Yosemite, one of America's most seductively beautiful outdoor destinations.
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It may be a macabre subject, but there's no denying that this nonfiction book is a strangely fascinating read. Off the Wall recounts the various ways that visitors have met unfortunate ends in Yosemite, one of America's most seductively beautiful outdoor destinations. Falling over waterfalls and drowning, getting lost while hiking off-trail, slipping on the cables up Half Dome, and even base jumping off cliffs are among the fatal accidents that this book discusses in depth.

Written by biologist Michael P. Ghiglieri and medical doctor Charles R. Farabee with illustrations by Jim Myers, this book is the second in a series that began with the popular Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. But both books are much more than just-the-facts-ma'am accounting of tragedies in the national parks. Their real purpose is not so much entertainment as it is education.

As you read through Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite, you'll find out that many of the fatal mishaps experienced by park visitors could have been avoided just by using common sense or by remembering to respect the power of Mother Nature and not overestimate one's own abilities, especially in the case of young men, who the authors argue most often put themselves at risk.

In the end, this is the kind of book that you just can't put down, because the human interest stories are so compelling. If you've ever spent time outdoors in our national parks, you can't help but ask yourself, "If this happened to me, what would I do?" The authors may not have all the answers, but at least you'll learn what not to do in this book.

For more safety tips to make your Yosemite trip happy-go-lucky and carefree, see our Yosemite Safety & Skills section.